Carlos Correa hadn’t gotten that many opportunities to celebrate this year. The Astros’ young shortstop, who struggled last season to build upon a fantastic 2017, missed over half of this season with a broken rib and then a back problem. And though he was a powerful hitter when he was healthy enough to get in the lineup, slugging .568, that skill hadn’t yet shown up in the postseason. In the past four games heading into Sunday’s Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees, Correa didn’t have a hit or a walk, and he had struck out six times. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the Astros were 1-3 in those games.)
Those fortunes shifted in Game 2, where Correa opened the scoring with a second-inning RBI double. And then, with the game knotted at two apiece and J.A. Happ on the mound in relief for the Yankees, Correa got ahold of the very first pitch he saw to lead off the 11th—a high fastball that he drove into the seats in opposite field. From the moment he made contact to send everybody home, Correa basked in the glow of the whole party.
“As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going over the fence,” Correa said afterward. “The adrenaline started pumping like crazy. I don’t even know what I did. I’ve got to go watch the video. But I know I was hyped.”
What he did was maybe the most exhilarated playoff dinger celebration this side of Jose Bautista. First, he admired his shot, and took his time to absorb all the crowd noise before beginning to even think about touching first base.
And before reaching home, he switched sports, draining a long jumper with his helmet into the middle of his teammates, who mobbed him as he leaped onto the plate to officially end things.
It’s impossible to overstate how huge this dinger was for Houston. After getting zeroed by Yankees pitching in Game 1, they only managed to plate two in 10 innings on Sunday night. For one of baseball’s most dominant offenses, facing a group of pitchers who don’t exactly rank as the best in the league, getting beat twice on their home field because they failed to score runs could have been a death blow. But because of Correa, it’s Houston who has all the momentum, all the optimism, and had all the fun on Sunday night.